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Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene was nominated for two Grammys at the awards show airing tonight. The nominations were his first.

Jimmy Greene in 2001. Photo by Gabe Palacio/Getty Images.


It was bittersweet moment for Greene, whose nominated album, titled "Beautiful Life," has its roots in tragedy.

Greene and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, embrace. Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

Greene's daughter, Ana, was one of 20 students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.

Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

In January, Greene told CBS News that recording the album was his way of coming to terms with the enormous grief that followed his daughter's death:

"One of his songs from his album, 'Seventh Candle,' symbolizes the candle he'd never get to put on Ana's next birthday cake. She was just six — and a "half," as she would always emphasize to her parents — when she was killed.

Greene wrote the song around the time of her seventh birthday in 2013, playing it specifically on soprano saxophone because that is the closest range to his daughter's voice."

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, over 550 American children have died from gunshots.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Between 1999 and 2014, there were over 6,400 gun-related deaths of children age 14 and younger. Mosts of these were homicides, according to an NBC News analysis of CDC data.

One of them was Ana Marquez-Greene.

After Ana's death, Greene felt he didn't have a choice but to channel his feelings into his music. In a video interview, he told The Recording Academy that the music he composed "felt very much so like it needed to be documented" in the months after his daughter's death.

"I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived," he wrote on his website.

In a "special message" on his website, Greene asks fans to urge their representatives in Congress to write common sense into America's gun laws to help prevent the next Sandy Hook.


Greene, center, with fellow Sandy Hook parents, President Barack Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

"There has been much debate in Washington D.C. and in state legislatures nationwide about gun control policy in response to the Sandy Hook School murders," Greene wrote. "Your voice and your vote count! Let your elected leaders know you want to make our schools and communities safer. Write them, call them, email them, but please don't remain silent."

Until that happens, Greene's nominations are a testament to the power music has to express what words and data often can't.

Photo by Gabe Palacio/Getty Images.

While Greene says he's "thankful" and "humbled" by the honor, his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, believes his nominations and his music are most importantly a lesson in how we can move on from the worst moments in life.

"They say after a trauma, there's three normal responses. You know, fight, flight or freeze," Marquez-Greene told CBS. "And I think what Jimmy did is he showed and he is showing people that there's another way and that's create."

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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